Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk spoke about all things Tesla at the Code Conference in Rancho Verdes, California this week, dismissing Google as a competitor and clarifying reports about problems the Falcon Wing doors in the Model X.
Musk addressed the entry of technology giants Apple and Google to the car business. Google is actively testing driverless self-driving cars, while Apple is believed to be developing an Apple Car on the down low. Although little is known about the Apple Car, Musk still believes Apple is a stronger long-term competitor for Tesla. Musk said that Apple, pioneer of computers and smartphones, “will be a director competitor.” Although he thinks Apple can produce cars by 2020, he also opined that the company needed to get involved soon, saying “It’s a missed opportunity.”
Tesla is coming off an exciting quarter, which found pre-orders for its 2017 Model 3 soaring. The company has around 400,000 orders for the $35,000 base-priced car.
Despite Google’s research and development lab Google X making worldwide headlines for spending more money than apple on R&D, Musk dismissed Google’s attempt to make a car. Musk said Google would never sell its own cars. Instead, Musk said, “They’ll license the technology.”
Musk may have more respect for Apple because he knows the company has been actively hiring some of the best engineers available. In fact, Tesla and Apple are competing to attract top talent to their projects.
Meanwhile, Musk will be defending a lawsuit from a driver of the Model X, who claims the technology for the Model X was “rushed.” Barrett Lyon filed the suit under California’s Lemon Law, seeking a refund of $167,000 and claiming the doors have smashed into objects, putting Lyon and his wife at risk of harm.
Musk addressed the issue at a shareholders’ meeting on June 1. He assumed full responsibility for the door issues and said that the software issues were caused partially by his own hubris. “I need to fault myself for a little bit of hubris for putting too much technology all at once into a product. In retrospect, the right thing to do with the Model X would have been to take a lot of the really awesome cool things but kind of table them for a future version . . . The software that controls the Model X and the operation of the doors has been incredibly difficult to refine, and getting the complex set of sensors to work well has been incredibly difficult to refine. I think we’re almost there in making the doors useful.”
Musk said the Falcon Wing doors were malfunctioning mostly due to a software problem. The company recently issued an over-the-air update for Model X owners.
Musk isn’t just involved in the auto industry. He is also passionate about space travel to Mars, setting an aggressive timeline for his SpaceX company to begin manless missions to Marsh in 2018. the ambitious Musk wants to put humans on Mars by 2024.